You should read this terrific post that Geoff Livingston has written for Mashable on social media lessons from the Haitian earthquake. There’s a ton of food for thought there.
But I’m following the Wyclef Jean/YÃ©le Haiti story closely and today saw this report in Gawker.
While I’m not jumping to conclusions (I’ll leave that to the appropriate authorities), I do think there are enough valid questions to make me think that non-profits should be extremely concerned about the long-term impact on fundraising.
Which, let’s face it, determines whether they get to carry out their mission effectively or not.
Here’s how I responded to Geoff’s post:
Nice post, Geoff. I think the other really important lesson here is that while the immediacy that social media allows is breathtaking, it is equally, if not more, important to do your research before using these channels and committing to a path, because it could potentially have far-reaching consequences. I write this in context of the Wyclef Jean/YÃ©le Haiti “rumblings,” which are growing louder by the day (and as you know, did a brief post on this last week). Day by day more organizations are bringing YÃ©le Haiti on as a recipient of fundraisers, telethons, etc., yet there is justifiable speculation as to the workings of this organization.
Please understand I am not pointing a finger at Mr. Jean personally; I have no doubt he has the best of intentions. But the desire to do good and administering effective relief operations are completely different things. If it turns out that all is well with YÃ©le Haiti, no one will be more relieved than me. But if not, a very many people will feel let down, which might, in turn, affect fundraising initiatives for non-profits, particularly of smaller/upcoming organizations; and possibly even the way they use social media in the future.
What do you think? Am I over-thinking this? Nothing to worry about? Please share your thoughts, over at Geoff’s post, or below, or both.
Social comments and analytics for this post…
This post was mentioned on Twitter by lindsaymallen: From @Shonali: “Aftershocks of a Different Kind” (re: charitable giving to #Haiti relief): http://bit.ly/6909wU…
You bring up a great point, which Mary answered brilliantly. The Wyclef Jean phenomena is a common one, unfortunately. As in business, ANYONE can start a nonprofit, and there is no regulatory body. So it’s important as investors to vet where we want our charitable dollars to go.
If people don’t want to done that, I really suggest the Clinton Bush fund. They are vetting charities for the American people who want to send money for long term relief in Haiti, but don’t know where to begin.
Thanks Geoff, and Shonali. I did just finish my post that offers more detail on the issue of trust. I always worry that people will lose faith in giving if they don’t think their money is going to the correct place. Hoping our awareness plans can help. My post is at barbergp.com.
You both said it all. Thank you!
I love the generosity of more fortunate people this week and hope that warms the souls of those in Haiti. They have been in such dire straits for years that is makes the quake even more horrendous.
During these times of great need, it’s especially important people take precautions to make sure they give to trusted organizations. Funds need to go where the vast majority go directly to meet immediate needs.
Individuals can get great information about nonprofits from guidestar.org and also from you local United Way. It just takes a few extra minutes to make sure your hard-earned money goes to the people of Haiti who so desparately need it.
Thanks so much for stopping by, Mary. I think your points are extremely valid and Guidestar is a great resource. Too many folks don’t know where to do their research, especially in times like this – so thank you for pointing that out.